Friday, April 11, 2014


Maggie Jane is sitting curled up sideways in an armchair, practically in the fetal position in a wreath of books, already half way through a Junie B. Jones even though we just got home from the bookstore. She doesn't hear me when I call her name. She is oblivious to Kate's interpretive dance performance of the movie Frozen. She is in the zone.

I'm not annoyed that she won't answer me. I'm proud. Catching her in the quiet reading pose feels similar to the welling up of love I get when I go in at night to tuck them back in and kiss them in their sweaty sleep. No matter how many things they've broken that day, no matter how much I've wanted to wring their necks, it's hard not to adore them when they are fast asleep. They can't possibly look more angelic than when they're being so good and so silent!

I know this new habit of hers warms my heart so much because it reminds me of me: I am a reader, and look how the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. But I also have to admit that I really love my daughter's ability to read to herself because it's QUIET.

Peace and quiet have not been much a part of my experience as a mother. Books, on the other hand, have been there for me every step of the way. Maggie was a colicky baby who screamed bloody murder through most of her first six months of life and nursed around the clock. Delirious with fatigue, I started reading all of Agatha Christie's murder mysteries in chronological order starting with The Mysterious Affair at Styles. What else can you do while stuck on the couch all day with a cluster feeding newborn and insomnia-induced poor short-term memory besides whip through And Then There Were None for the 200th time? (I'm still not finished. I'm bogged down in the dreary post-WWII stretch.)

A few years later, Maggie grew into a sensitive, emotional, easily-overstimulated toddler who would launch into epic tantrums over the smallest things. Parking ourselves back on the couch to burn through a stack of her favorite picture books was often the only way to get through the day. And when I couldn't take another second of playing Fairy Princess Mermaid Cats or listen to one more knock knock joke with an esoteric kindergarten punch line, Curious George or the Lorax or Charlie Bucket came to my rescue. Letting my little wild child crawl up into my lap and tuck her curly head under my chin while we shared a book together has been a way for us to forge a quiet bond in the midst of an emotionally turbulent relationship.

At the moment, we are in a short lull between those preschool tantrum years and the impending tweenybopper "I hate you" stage. Things seem to be on a more even keel now that my baby bird has flown the nest. She goes to school every day with her backpack and lunch box. She's in the purple reading group, which is totally her favorite color. She tells me all about the little boy in her class who is SO funny and wonderful that she threw a rock at him on the playground and got in trouble. When we go to the bookstore or the library, she comes home with a short stack of thick chapter books, sits sideways in an armchair, and tunes out the world. Sometimes on Saturdays she and I stay in our pajamas all day, cuddled up under a blanket on that same old couch, reading our books side-by-side, and Mike has to take Kate to the hardware store because her bongo drumming is making us both crazy.

These will be the moments I look back on fondly when she's grown, and this common passion will be one of the things that holds us together when the road gets rocky. She's already got my old copies of Charlotte's Web and Where the Sidewalk Ends. Hopefully this is just the beginning.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


I was working on a post about a bunch of exciting albums that are coming out soon, but then I found out about this new Queens of the Stone Age video for "Smooth Sailing," my favorite song off their Like Clockwork album. I'm just gonna bump it up to the top. Yeah.

OK, so back to what I was saying about new albums...

I'm sure you can imagine the excitement over here at the Fowler household about the upcoming new Jack White album, Lazaretto, coming out June 10th. I think Mike is secretly checking the mailbox for it everyday even though he knows it won't be there. He's a member of The Vault at Third Man Records, so he'll get a huge box of goodies and a special blue vinyl copy of the record when it comes out. It's gonna be like Christmas in June for a certain special little boy Mike.

Maggie's totally fave band ever is The Secret Sisters, whose new album, Put Your Needle Down, comes out April 15th. She's so obsessed with them that we have had to insist that she choose SOMETHING ELSE, ANYTHING ELSE when it's her turn to pick the music in the car, because as much we love their last album, we can't listen to it EVERY SINGLE TIME for four solid years.

Here's Maggie's favorite song (a Hank Williams cover, she does have good taste) off the last album, The Secret Sisters -- "My hair is still curly and my eyes are still blue, why don't you love me like you used to do?"

Here's a video for a single off the new album:

And, finally, I'm looking forward to the new Felice Brothers album on June 17th, Favorite Waitress. Here's a preview they made:

This article in Esquire, an interview with James Felice, includes audio of a new song off the album called "Cherry Licorice."

Looks like we'll have plenty of good stuff to listen to on our big roadtrip to visit friends and family in the Midwest this summer! Can't wait.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Bunch of Random Shiny Objects

Y'all know about Bitter Southerner, right?! If you aren't reading it every Tuesday when the new articles come out, I just don't know how yer livin'.

As it says right at the top of their website: One Great Story from the South Every Week. We're here for a reason: to shed light on what it means to be a Southerner. Not what it meant to be a Southerner 20 years ago, and certainly not what it meant 120 years ago. Instead, let's talk about what it means to be a Southerner today.

The stories are kind of random, but often wonderful. Food, music, literature, culture, geography, photography, the ghosts that all Southerners seem to carry around with them. They have a little of everything. Here's one of my favorites, "From a Distance," about leaving home and "the old Southern duality thing."

This week's post, "Acadian Azaleas, 1979," is about photographer Rick Oliver who traveled around Bayou Lafourche in the Spring of 1979 taking polaroids of Cajun people with their flowering azalea bushes. If you go to the BS Facebook page, you can look at all the reader-submitted photos they've collected in the last couple of days of people posing (usually in their Easter clothes) in front of azaleas. I love it, even though I have to say my folks are more like crepe myrtle people.

It gives me the Bourbon and Branch Water Blues.

One small quibble is that Bitter Southerner is mostly focused on the Deep South, and I'm a little Fringe South. So another website that has great stories that are specifically about Oklahoma is the alternative, Tulsa-based, online news magazine This Land Press. Here's an example of a very Okie-centric article that I particularly loved about the TV show Mazeppa Pompazoidi, which I have never seen, but know about through my parents. If you've ever wondered who let Gary Busey on the TV in the first place, you'll want to read it! I also learned about this website, WhatWasThere, from This Land Press. WhatWasThere has searchable maps with user-uploaded old photos that show what a place looked like in the past. I can spend hours there!! Don't look at it! Oh no.

Here's another great link from my dear friend, Val, who knows me like I know the back of my hand. (Or should I say she can read me like a book?!?! Oh, see what I did there? Well, you will in a second...) It's a company called Litographs that sells t-shirts, bags, and prints of images made out of the text of the classic books they represent. They are tremendously cool shirts, AND it's a local business for me as it's based out of Cambridge, MA.

So, should I get The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

or The Great Gatsby?

I also love the Leaves of Grass design - perhaps for a tote bag?

Finally, are you listening to Parker Millsap yet? What are you waiting for? You're seriously missing out. Go here and watch this video of him singing "Quite Contrary" on a rooftop in New York City. You'll thank me.
Have a lovely Wednesday, you fine people.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Come with me and follow a little trail of breadcrumbs through the forest of my mind, children...

Last summer, I watched most of the Newport Folk Festival streaming online from NPR's website, primarily because I wanted to see Beck, Old Crow Medicine Show, JD McPherson, Andrew Bird, The Felice Brothers, Justin Townes Earl, and actually a whole bunch of other people, too. It was an amazing year for the festival that I was sad to have missed in person.

But I did happen to also catch the set by Shovels and Rope, and had my socks knocked completely off by their great songs and incredible stage presence. I did not realize that I had totally missed out on the set by Hurray for the Riff Raff from the same concert. However, the couple from S&R had covered a HFTRR song that day and are friends of theirs and have mentioned them fairly often since, so I eventually found my way over to them, too. And from THERE, I've now landed on The Deslondes, who are friends of and record with the folks from Hurray for the Riff Raff (Remember this video for "St. Roch Blues" that I already posted? It has members of both bands in it).

Are you keeping up with me here? Do you need to sit down and rest for a minute? Push on, push on, friends, we're getting the part where you can sit and watch some videos soon, very soon. You're doing great.

So then I recently read this article in American Songwriter about the growing country music scene in New Orleans, home of HFTRR and The Deslondes, who feature heavily in the article, so I had to get over here today and get some videos of theirs up so you can love on them, too.

SIDENOTE: I gotta admit that calling this music "country" makes me a little twitchy. They describe themselves as "country-soul, swamp-boogie." I like that much better! I suppose it IS country music, technically. Like the way tomatoes are "fruit." I just happen to have PTSD linked to the word "country" and I'm probably in denial. (Shut up.)

Here, have look and listen and make up your own mind:

Monday, March 24, 2014

Let Auntie Amanda Name Your Baby!

Don't name your brand new wee bairn Brooklyn, Madison, Bronx or Cheyenne! Those are all so 2010. Let Auntie Amanda name your baby...

Creative baby name suggestions for Okies:

Roxbury (sounds tough)
Wellesley (middle name: Adams; reminds me of Wednesday & Pugsley Addams. You could also get with the whole Kim/Kanye thing and go with North Adams.)
Providence (Okies love religious names and this one's straight up Puritanical)
Worchester (pronounced Woostah)
Chicopee (whimsical)
Allston-Brighton (can't decide if this is better or worse with a hyphenated last name: Allston-Brighton Finch-Fletchley? Too much, or not enough?)

Creative baby name suggestions for Bostonians:

Bixby (nickname: Bix. Pretty sweet)
Mustang (wicked cool, that)
Jenks (Jinx)
Harrah (rhymes with Sarah. Probably will be constantly misspelled, but isn't that the point of names like these?)
Checotah (pronounced Sha-coat-uh)
Idabel (middle name: June. Double down on that trendy Dust Bowl aesthetic.)

There you go. Now, don't feel like you have to send me an invitation to your Gender Reveal Party or anything. Knowing you named your kid Bixby because I said it sounded cool is thanks enough.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Ice Castles

Saturday afternoon we trekked up to Loon Mountain in New Hampshire to see the Ice Castles before Spring comes and melts them away. It was, in fact, the last day they were open to the public, and they were a little drippy and the icicles were concerning. We had driven out of sunny, 50°F weather down south in Massachusetts into storm clouds and frigid air in the White Mountains, but the girls enjoyed it so much, it was worth it in the end. I have no idea how they made this, but it was really impressive!

This was a slide that came down from another "room" in the castle. There were several little tunnels and grottos and thrones cut in the ice. Classical music played over loudspeakers which Kate said was for The Ball. At night they put on colored lights, but we didn't stay that long. The girls thought it was so fun!

One last photo, yeah right.

Really the last photo!

When we got home, Grandpa made a fire and we had s'mores!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014